Release Date: 
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

National Federation of the Blind Applauds Introduction of Bill to Benefit Disabled Veterans

Urges Senate to Act Swiftly on Inclusion of Disabled Veterans in Space Available Program

Baltimore, Maryland (February 19, 2013): The National Federation of the Blind, the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind people in the United States, today applauded the introduction of S. 346 by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and Senator Dean Heller (R-NV).  If passed, the bill will reverse the exclusion of 100 percent service-disabled veterans from the military’s Space Available program, which allows active-duty military, Red Cross employees, and retired members of the armed services to travel on military aircraft if there is space available.  A companion bill, H.R. 164, has been introduced in the United States House of Representatives by Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-FL).

"These veterans embody the definition of patriotism and sacrifice," said Senator Tester. "This bill is a common-sense way to honor their service and improve their quality of life by increasing their access to the benefits they have earned."
Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “We thank Senators Tester and Heller for taking action to reverse the exclusion from the Space Available program of veterans who have acquired disabilities while honorably serving their country.  These brave men and women are entitled to the benefits that they would have received had they been able to complete their service and retire from the Armed Forces.  We urge the Senate to act swiftly to advance this important legislation.”
"Extending space-available military air travel to 100 percent service-connected disabled veterans would send the message that our country truly honors their service and sacrifice, something they richly deserve," said DAV National Commander Larry A. Polzin.  "The DAV thanks Senators Tester and Heller for introducing this important legislation."
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